Money, money, money. Staying alive is expensive, especially if your main occupation just isn't providing the quality life you know you deserve. So how do you survive? You find a side hustle of course.
Humans are fascinated by their own weaknesses and one that seems to get us more than most is greed. We're tested everywhere from movies to memes about what we will and will not do to make a buck. It could be breaking your friend's arm for a million dollars, or selling sex, your company, even your used underwear. The amounts and activities vary, but the concept stays the same: how much of your health, or morals, or dignity, even your own happiness are you willing to compromise for to survive and thrive?
Of course, the temptation grows when you're already struggling, so we asked Kiwis the most outrageous thing they've done to stay afloat.
VICE: Hey Jess, tell me the craziest ways you've made money.
Jess: I don't feel like anything I do is too crazy, I just take advantage of dumb men. I make minimum $300 dollars an hour on private webcam shows, but it's chill like one guy just watched me eat a bag of Doritos, play around on my phone and eventually fall asleep without saying anything, which was weird as shit on his part.
I've also always had random guys on Tinder want to hook up, so I put my bank account number on my profile and some will occasionally send me money to get my attention.
No way, how much?
Usually around $20-$50 so it's more entertaining than actually profitable. One guy from Tinder brought pizza and spirits for me and my friends as well as some cash in exchange for me kicking him in the balls. He's the only guy I've ever met up with in person.
Do you ever feel guilty that you're taking so much for so little in return?Occasionally, a lot of men have wives and children. One guy spent all of his savings on me on webcams and had to quit to avoid going broke, but it's important to remember that they have free will and are responsible for their own actions. If they weren't spending their time and money on me, they would be spending it on thousands of the other girls doing the same thing.
Would you ever stop? Or is too sweet?
I've definitely slowed down from when I first started. Working for a cam site you get paid half of what they spend, and people can record you and post on other tube sites which is really uncomfortable. I was making a lot of money then but it was taking over my life and getting too much.
I doubt it's something I could pull off in the long term, my initial selling point was "just turned 18, still in high school and living with my parents" and as I get older that appeal is wearing off.
Ah, the fresh, young girl thing–tale as old as time. Would you ever take it further? Have sex for money?
Yeah men love all that "barely legal" shit, I've had men tell me they have daughters my age. I don't generally stay away from meeting anyone in person, and at this point wouldn't even consider touching someone for less than a huge amount of money.
I'm in a really comfortable situation financially right now so I can afford to be picky, but if that were to change then I wouldn't rule out expanding what I do and making more.
VICE: Hey Will, what's the craziest thing you've done for quick cash?
Will: I did this clinical trial for an anti-cancer drug. I got like three and a half grand, before tax. It worked out at like $38 an hour for anything trial-related I was doing over a six week period.
What went into making the decision?
I just thought, this could be kind of a chill, good way to make money. Plus they pay you on the risk of the trial.
What were the risks? Worst-case scenario, what could have happened to you?
I did a lot of homework on it and the side effects were basically just lowering your immune system. Stomach pain, bloody urine, slowing how fast your body can rebuild cells. I experienced absolutely nothing, though. My dosage was like one hundredth of the normal dose.
Right, so from the get-go you didn't really experience any major inner conflict with doing it, it was always 100 percent worth the money?
Yeah, totally. I did heaps of research before I signed anything.
Is there any kind of boundary you wouldn't have cross to make easy money?
I guess making money at the cost of someone else. I'm fine with stealing as long as it's stealing from a corporation. I wouldn't steal off a neighbour or a local business.
VICE: Hey Renee, can you recall a time where you've had to really step out of your comfort zone to make money?
Renee: Well it was probably when I was in New York and I was so poor, like I was pretty much homeless. New York is so fucking expensive and like I had a job but it wasn't enough, so I started this sext business.
How does one even start a sext business?
Well, I had this boyfriend at the time and we would just sext all the time because he was really into it. Then one time his friend took his phone and started sexting me, it turned into a big thing. Anyway my boyfriend was like "my friend's in love with you now."
Then I was talking to a friend about being really good at sexting and she suggested I should do it for money, so we set up an ad on Craig's List with a bank account number. They had to pay first, before we would sext. I was literally on my breaks as a waitress just sexting.
That's super smart, how much were you making? Did no one ever try to call you?
It started off with a few hundred a week, then I started making about a grand. Oh yeah, they called all the time. I just never picked up.
Why did you stop?
It just started fucking with me mentally. I was on my phone all the time. I also really surprised myself with how imaginative I could be in all these text scenarios, I ended up feeling like I was actually having sex with them and I wasn't cool with that.
Is that where you draw the line with hustling?
Yeah I would never have sex with anyone for money, not even a blow job. It's the idea of touching someone who you're not attracted to at all.
How far have you gone to make money?
Well I met this babe on Tinder who asked if I would wank on camera, but only my face was going to be filmed. It wasn't really because I was hard up for cash, I only got like $250 dollars so it really wasn't a lot of money. She like masturbated while I masturbated so I was like masturbating over her masturbating over me.
Wow Masturbation-ception. So did you feel like you were crossing any moral boundaries?
Totally! I think understanding yourself as a sexual object can be quite tricky, so the idea that people would watch me wack off just to see my face was really interesting to me. I just was kind of welcoming the objectification. The money was kind of a justification, if there hadn't been any money I might have felt even more taken advantage of.
Is there something that you wouldn't do, no matter the amount of money involved?
Definitely, but I don't know what that is. If someone offered me a million dollars to do something who knows? I wouldn't kill anyone, causing pain to others I would find very difficult. It's more damage to myself or my image, that's the grey area I was playing with.
Do you and the Tinder girl still keep in touch?
Nah! We had a date and then another date at this porn mansion she was living at, then she asked me to do it. It was general sexual taboo territory with her being there too. We were never together though, it was as cheap and deconstructed as it could possibly be. We actually had to do a couple of takes, so it was a gruelling afternoon.
That sounds really strenuous!
Yeah I think at the end I was just kind of like: "God! That was full on." Looking back on it I think, "man that was weird." Really surreal.
There isn't any money in it, but you can definitely follow Beatrice on Instagram.